On Ash Wednesday, GPC pastors gave “Ashes to Go” outside the church, with a simple sign, and a bowl of ashes. When people came by to receive ashes, we simply made the ashen sign on their foreheads, and reminded them that they ‘came from dust, and to dust they will return.’
For us pastors, to tell friend and stranger alike about their mortality and sin; and for people to go out of their way (even stopping their cars on the side of the road) to be told a message that few want to tell—that we are broken, and we are mortal, seems like an odd business to be in and an odd thing to want to receive.
Perhaps, though, there is a freedom in proclaiming our limits and failures, and wearing it as a badge on our heads. A freedom from the false notion that if we’re just a little more perfect, we’ll be happy and worthy. Instead, we find in the ashes of Lent our need to receive God’s grace over and over again, and the freedom to cease striving to be perfect, and instead strive to be faithful. And that is a gift that’s worth going out of your way for on a cold Wednesday in early March.